4 common mistakes keeping you from a good night's sleep


(BPT) - Do you wake up in the morning feeling tired, even if you went to bed early? Do you struggle to feel well rested? Is it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep all night? You're not alone.

Healthy adults generally need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, although sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, you're not getting quality sleep. This can have a tremendous effect on your mental and physical health.

To get a good night's rest, there are many things that often get overlooked. Mayo Clinic health experts weigh in on four of the most common mistakes that keep people from a good night's rest.

1. Ignoring sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to your sleep lifestyle and the choices you make that either facilitate or restrict quality rest. Common lifestyle mistakes that often inhibit sleep include eating heavy meals before bed or drinking caffeine too late in the day. Additionally, establishing a sleep routine is essential for telling your mind and body it's time to rest. This includes going to bed at the same time each night and minimizing exposure to light at bedtime, especially the glow coming off your favorite technology. Turn off media 30 minutes to an hour before bed so you can wind down and settle in.

2. Causes of insomnia

Insomnia is defined as having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep three nights a week or more for at least three months. Some insomnia is due to medical issues, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. Once medical causes are ruled out, it's important to look at habits that might be facilitating insomnia. One common mistake is people spend too much time doing things other than sleep in the bedroom. If you get into bed and don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and go to another room. When your eyes get heavy and your head starts to bob, get back into bed. This trains your brain to associate bed with sleep.

3. Overusing sleep aids

Many people reach for sleep aids to get a good night's rest, but doing so regularly is not recommended. Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines, and people often build a tolerance to them. That means they lose their effectiveness the longer you take them. What's more, OTC sleep aids often leave you feeling groggy in the morning as your body attempts to wake from the sleep hangover. They do not provide the feeling of restorative sleep that most people want to achieve.

4. Taking naps

If you don't sleep well, you may decide to take an afternoon nap. Chance are, you don't sleep well again and do the same thing the next day. It can be an endless cycle. Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day (try right after lunch, for example). Instead of napping, do some physical activity. It can help energize your body and will tire you for later in the day. The only consideration is to avoid exercising too late in the day as it can wake your body and make it difficult to fall asleep.

These four common mistakes can easily be corrected at home, but if you continue to have trouble with sleep, consider requesting an appointment with a Mayo Clinic specialist at www.mayoclinic.org/appointments.